Thin Film Electronics ASA (Thinfilm) has announced that it has successfully demonstrated the industry’s first integrated-system product to combine printed electronics technology, real-time sensing capability, and near-field communication (NFC) functionality. A video of the demonstration, which shows the wireless capture of threshold excursion data from a temperature-sensing smart label, was presented by Davor Sutija, Thinfilm CEO, at LOPEC, the international conference and exhibition for printed electronics. Thinfilm also plans to conduct live demos at its booth during the exhibition.
“This successful demonstration represents a critical milestone in Thinfilm’s RF (radio frequency) roadmap and comes just four months after acquiring Kovio, Inc.’s PDPS (printed-dopant polysilicon) technology,” said Davor Sutija, Thinfilm’s CEO. “Our engineering team has made truly impressive progress in a relatively short amount of time and we’re very excited about the many commercial applications for this compelling product.”
Thinfilm’s PDPS technology is based on a hybrid manufacturing process that leverages print methods in key process steps. The technology enables high-performance transistors that support the high frequency RF circuitry required for NFC communications in Thinfilm labels. Furthermore, the PDPS platform allows Thinfilm engineers to significantly compress the cycle time for new designs, enabling faster time-to-market for new sensing elements as they are developed.
The Thinfilm smart label platform is designed to accommodate a variety of sensing elements, both printed and conventional. Depending on the application and necessary components, labels may either be fully printed or feature a combination of printed and surface-mounted elements. The NFC-enabled temperature-sensing label demonstrated at LOPEC represents the first in a potentially wide range of sensing products.
“Beyond the demonstration itself, it’s important to note that Thinfilm has created a highly versatile, multi-sensor platform that is capable of addressing a range of needs our partners and clients may have,” added Sutija. “Temperature sensing is an area we initially targeted given the market opportunity and demand, but the market has also expressed significant interest in applications that measure time, humidity, mechanical shock, blood oxygen levels, and glucose levels.”
In the system demonstrated at LOPEC, PDPS logic detects that a critical temperature threshold has been exceeded. An NFC-enabled smartphone then wirelessly detects the signal and displays a corresponding alert on the device’s screen. Because the smart label contains a unique ID in addition to the sensor data, it is possible to log the alert in a cloud-based application for further analysis.
Prior important technical milestones leading to today’s announcement include:
• Closed, stand-alone system built from printed and organic electronics (October 2013)
• Low-voltage display driver based on complementary organic logic (June 2013)
• Memory write based on detection of temperature thresholds (December 2012)
• Full addressing logic for multi-bit read-write of printed memory (October 2011)
Thinfilm has now demonstrated all components necessary to produce its first NFC-enabled integrated-system product and expects to deliver commercial samples of the smart label to key partners in 2015.
“Thinfilm’s multi-sensor platform presents tremendous opportunities for us and our partners, especially when you consider the variety of new sensors being created today and the pace at which they’re being brought to market,” added Sutija. “As a company we are committed to being a leader in printed electronics, and our partners will play a key role in our broader efforts to deliver ubiquitous intelligence and power the Internet of Everything.”